Ive been playing a BU deck since 1994. Mana drain was just such an auto include 4 of in my mind that i havent really thought about it in a long time. The current version of my deck runs 12 counterspells. Until about 6 months ago it was:
4 force of will
4 mana drain
Im taking out the last 2 mana drains to put in 2 more spell pierce. Im sad to see them go, because weve had a lot of fun together. They can keep my mind twists company in a drawer. (sigh......good times....)
Im curious as to what other people think about mana drain and counterspells in general. I have some mental missteps, sometimes i put them in, sometimes i take them out....when theyre the perfect card in the perfect situation, theyre.....perfect. But in any other situation there pretty much garbage. Theres no middle ground. I find that very often the best thing a mental misstep does in a game is pitch to force of will. Currently im finding the versatility of spell pierce more useful then very narrow, but totally awesome freeness of mental misstep.
Mana Drain these days has been relegated to a one or two of in the archetypal "Big Blue" decks (your Tinker decks and decks of that nature). While it's sad to see a hard counterspell leave the format and without Mana Drain having only Force of Will as an answer to everything Vintage has become a different place over the last 3 or 4 years. Mental Misstep is almost an auto include in any blue deck with Force of Wills sans Outcome based decks and even in the Grixis Tinker decks you generally have one mana open rather than two making spells like Flusterstorm and Spell Pierce better options. I personally have been playing some extra removal spells in my Pyromancer lists with Lightning Bolts and Swords to Plowshares joining the artifact hate removal spells like Wear//Tear and Fragmentize.
Misstep being amazing when it's good and a blue card for Force of Will has been good enough for me but I'm also very wary to play too many cards that feel dead in various matchups. Because Misstep is such a narrow card, and yes I do understand the high number of one drops in the format, I often use my Missteps fairly aggressively as to get value out of them. While I feel Mana Drain is still a fine 1 or 2 of in Tinker decks with both a lot of artifact mana and good outlets for both the artifact mana and the mana associated with Mana Drain, I have been shying away from it as of late and moving myself towards more Flusterstorms and a stronger proactive gameplan with the games revolving more around me throwing haymakes such as Jace, Yawg Will, and Tinker with Flusterstorm as both an excellent protection spell as well as being solid against spells like Ancestral, various cantrips and card draw, as well as Paradoxical Outcome.
I've been playing since 1995 myself, with a couple of hiatuses for various, personal reasons, but have seen the game from its relative "roots" through today. Although I'm not much of a vintage player myself, having never bought back into Power 9 cards upon re-entry in the game, I've still played against a lot of Mana Drains over the years, in various nights, formats and competitive levels. I've never had more than 2 Mana Drains at once, so my opinion is schewed, and I'm sort of an old school player, but if I had a set of Mana Drains, I'd build a Vintage deck AROUND them; how competitive said deck would be / could be is another question, but I don't build All of my decks to win tournaments. I have decks "in the workshop," a bunch of "theme" decks, a couple of tier 1 builds, and a lot of fun cards to brew with. But for me, Mana Drain is such an Iconic card, it would be part of Something for me, all 4 of them.
Back in the old days, though, you might not run 4, because you didn't have 4, due to cost, accessibility and other reasons. Today, however, with the glut of new cards, the change in metagame, or whatever, you have noted that Spell Pierce and Mental Misstep might be better cards, situation-wise, and playability-wise. In the old days, you didn't run 4 Mana Drains because you couldn't afford them; these days, you don't run 4 Mana Drains because there are "better" options.
As an "old-timer," that sort of breaks my heart. I still wish I had a set.